Southeast Asia is increasingly becoming a battleground for tech giants from the United States and China vying for investment opportunities in the region, amid slow growth in the West and heightened political tensions between Washington and Beijing. At the centre of their battle is Indonesia, the region’s largest digital market. This year, four American tech juggernauts – Google, Microsoft, Facebook and PayPal – have invested in the country’s unicorns, or private tech firms valued at over US$1 billion, and the trend is not expected to abate any time soo
For example, Indonesian e-commerce company Tokopedia announced that it had raised an undisclosed amount of investment – reportedly around US$350 million – from Google and Temasek, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund. Tokopedia, valued at US$7 billion, is already backed by Chinese tech giant Alibaba, alongside Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group and venture capital firm Sequoia Capital India.
Meanwhile Microsoft has also partnered with an Indonesian unicorn, announcing an undisclosed investment this month in e-commerce firm Bukalapak, which put the company’s valuation at US$2.5 billion to US$3 billion. Bukalapak’s existing investors include China’s Ant Group, which holds a 19.4 per cent share stake in the company. Microsoft is also an investor in Singapore’s ride-hailing and food-delivery behemoth Grab, which rates Indonesia as its major market.
The Gojek investment is Facebook’s first real foray into investing in Indonesia, where it will try to introduce mobile payment services through WhatsApp messaging application. Seattle-based tech mammoth Amazon has also set its sights on operating in Indonesia, with West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil announcing on November 16 that the company will invest around US$2 billion to build a data centre for its cloud computing service in the province.
(source: South China Morning Post)